26 November 2018

How to compare different RTLS technologies?

There are thousands of use-cases for indoor positioning and dozens of ways to do it. Choosing the right technology is a multisided task – first evaluating your needs and wishes, today and in the future, and then comparing all the possible solutions. What is the right choice? Obviously, there’s no one correct answer to that.

We at Quuppa have been developing our technology for more than a decade and tested quite a few other solutions along the way. And our customers have been testing a few dozens more. So it’s fair to say that together we have a pretty good understanding of the subject.

This comparison is by no means complete or absolute, and to be honest, it’s probably also a bit biased, but we hope this helps in your decision making. We’re always happy to discuss further, so please send us a message, or leave a comment below.

Comparison of radio-based indoor positioning technologies.

Confusing technology with methodology is a common misunderstanding. For example, Bluetooth®, WiFi, and UWB are radio technologies used in indoor positioning systems, whereas AoA, RSSI, ToF, and TDoA are methods for determining the location. On top of these, comes the actual beef: hardware, positioning algorithms, software tools, and services, that make the final product.

The ultimate performance and features of the system – accuracy, robustness, scalability, versatility, usability, compatibility, cost, etc. – is a combination of all of these factors.

WiFi /
Active RFID
Developed for positioning Yes Yes Yes No Some profiles
Accuracy 0.1–1 m 0.1–1 m 0.1–1 m 5–20 m 5–20 m
Real-time Yes Yes Yes No No
Tag power consumption Very low Very High Low High High
Smartphone compatible Yes No No Yes Yes
IoT Gateway Yes No No Yes No
Cost of setup Medium Medium Very High Medium Low
Cost of ownership Low Medium Very High Medium Low

Any other options?

Sure, there are several non-radio technologies used for indoor positioning, including optical, acoustic, inertial, and magnetic, all of which may have their possible use-cases.

If absolute accuracy is the main criteria, camera-based solutions are hard to beat – however, the costs are going to be very high, and they can’t for example easily identify the tracked objects. Conversely, if using infrastructure is not an option, some kind of indoor navigation can be done using e.g. inertia or magnetic field -based solutions, keeping in mind that the expectations for accuracy, reliability, and general usability must be adjusted accordingly.

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